Author's Note

TBR Check-In: March 2019

Goodreads Reading Challenge

D8B496E7-FE5D-45AA-BBF1-CB02BAC9C128.jpegFebruary saw 37 books read, for a total so far this year of 84. Goodreads says 82, since two of the books I read aren’t up there yet, but I should be able to edit that when the details are up. I’d have liked to hit 40, but this is a short month, I suppose!

My Owned TBR

As of March 1st, my TBR stands at 470 books. Up by 61….  I am doing an appalling job of reducing this! Two things are to blame – a crop of Regency romance on NetGalley, and a friend who was ditching a lot of classic fantasy books and offered them to me. I’m not even going to set a goal this month. Just down!! Continue reading “TBR Check-In: March 2019”

Author's Note

TBR Check In: February 2019

Well, January seems to have gone by quickly! It’s been a great reading month for me, but that doesn’t mean I can take things easy!

Goodreads Reading Challenge


I read 47 books this month. That’s my best ever, I think! Since my goal works out to a book a day, I’ve been trying to build in a buffer on quiet days in case there are days when I can’t finish a whole book! Thus far, I’m very pleased. Comments of ‘HOW’ will be met with the answer ‘witchcraft’ – I’m sorry, I don’t know how, this is just how fast I read!

My Owned TBR

As of February 1st, my TBR page stands at 419 books. So much for reducing by 20 books from 395, that’s actually gone up by 24! This is mostly NetGalley books and trades coming in – I’ve bought very few books this month. I’d like to get this under 400 by 1st March. Continue reading “TBR Check In: February 2019”

Author's Note

#CHCCYAFest – A Letter to Tamora Pierce

CHCC YA Fest is coming up on the 12th May, and to celebrate, they wanted to spread some bookish joy. Bloggers on the CHCC YA Blogfest Tour are writing letters to those in the bookish community who have brought them joy, so I decided to write mine to one of the authors who had the most significant impact on me as a reader, as a writer, and as a person: Tamora Pierce!


Continue reading “#CHCCYAFest – A Letter to Tamora Pierce”

Author's Note

The Young Adult Writer’s Journey – Do not read this book.

Something a little different today, because I read a book last night that I cannot countenance staying silent about. I try to stay positive here, because I recognise that the books I dislike are usually just “not for me” as opposed to “objectively bad”. However, The Young Adult Writer’s Journey is a book I picked up on NetGalley hoping to gain some tips for my own writing – unfortunately, it was so highly offensive that I feel the need to warn people. Please do share this post if something here resonates with you.

This book is:

Racist. Ableist. Homophobic. Patronising. Lazy.

This book is so filled with stereotyping and lazy, off-hand, unsubstantiated comments as to be actively damaging to anyone who tries to use it. Here are a selection of quotes from the book – not everything, as I got exhausted:

– “Ethnicity is huge in YA… Ethnicity adds flavor. Many races have cultures that affect their behavior. Do your research and find the odd, quirky characteristic your ethnic character can use for fun…” Oh, and this quote comes from the “Basic Teen Social Cliques” section, implying that non-white characters are a clique like jocks or nerds.

– “In this section, note any speech of language issues. If the character is ethnic, maybe from India, what kind of speech patterns does he/she use?”

– The section on naming characters implies a white default and says you should use ethnic names to add diversity. In fact, the whole book implies a white default.

– “Commitment is a huge thing. Sometimes, they think they’re committed, and then, boom, they’re not interested in that other person at all and maybe they’re gay. Believe it, it’s happening more and more.”
– “LGBT characters have become a popular trend.”
– “School is not for sissies, either.”
– The “Basic Teen Social Cliques” section, as above with “ethnic” characters, includes “Gay, Bisexual and Transgender kids” as one of the cliques.
– “As the stigma attached to being sexually diverse fades, being in this group can add drama and an odd popularity to members who are in this group or who claim to be.”
– “Some kids, usually girls, are unsure of their sexuality at this stage and may flit in and out of this group.” Oh, so lesbianism or female bisexuality is more of a phase than being a gay or bi male?
– “Books including trans and gay kids are becoming not only acceptable but sought after.”

– “Young people are fun, because they are energetic.”
– “Nerds may have emotional issues and or mental handicaps like OCD, eating disorders, extreme lack of self-confidence or learning, personality, or emotional disorders like ADD, ADHD, PTSD, hyperactivity, or they could come from broken and dysfunctional families.” AS MAY ALL TEENS. OR ADULTS. OR ANYONE.

– “Cheerleaders are often the pretty, athletic girls. They wear make up, trendy clothes, and frequently come from affluent families. They like to date jocks, can be sexually active…”

Lazy and unsubstantiated claims about sexual topics:
– “Date rape is very common and when three of four women will be raped, according to statistics, awareness of sexual predators isn’t an uncommon topic for books that teens will want to read.” No footnotes or any explanation of those ‘statistics’.
– “You’ll never see teens under 18 having sex in a YA movie unless it’s about abuse, drug addiction, and prostitution, or some other extraordinary circumstances.” Actually, there is a growing movement to show healthy, positive sexual interactions in YA books. And we’re talking about books, not movies.

– This scale… just… this scale.

“1. Eye to body (check that hot guy out)
2. Eye to eye (making eye contact, oooh)
3. Voice to voice (Sometimes for a teenage guy or girl just talking to the opposite sex can be difficult, so this is a major step)
4. Hand to hand or hand to arm (Big step that first actual skin contact. This could give a girl or guy pimples for a week)
5. Arm to shoulder (As in the movies, putting an arm around the girl is huge.)
6. Arm to waist (Not much of this goes on with teens)
7. Mouth to mouth (The pinnacle of firsts in almost everyone’s life, the first kiss)
8. Hand to head or face
9. Hand to body (Stop here in YA)
10. Mouth to the parts…
11. Hand to the other parts…
12. Actual sex (just no).”

There are so many problems with this I can’t even begin to describe it. It’s completely bizarre to arrange this as steps in a relationship; neglects asexual experience and non-binary gender experience; includes completely wrong observations such as teens not putting their arms around each other’s waists; and on the whole, makes me think these authors have never seen inside a high school or sixth-form common room.

– “Even Bella waited until she was 18…” Yes, because Twilight depicts such a healthy relationship.

Just plain useless:
– “Try to tell a lot of your story with dialogue, but not too much, as discussed earlier.”
– The entire middle section of the book is a rehash of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey, with added comments about where these parts fall in Harry Potter. Not entirely useless, perhaps, but lazy and unoriginal.
– Almost every reference is to Harry Potter and other FILMS. The whole book uses FILMS as an example. Not books. MOVIES. It implies on several occasions that the only measure of success for a book is to be made into a film.
– Character names and titles of existing properties are got wrong on multiple occasions. There is no book called ‘The Maze Runners’. Nor is there a character in Matilda called ‘Miss Trunchbold’.
– Matilda is not a YA book. The new Jumanji film is not a YA book. Lord of the Rings is not a YA book. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is not YA. I seriously doubt that these authors have read widely in the YA genre, as they lean heavily on Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight, The Maze Runner, and Holes. The most recent of which was published in 2010. Over nine years ago. The genre has moved on.

This book disgusts me. I rarely slam books wholeheartedly, because I appreciate the effort that has gone into them even if they didn’t suit me. But here we have a book that perpetuates damaging stereotypes while pretending to offer advice, and offering no more advice than a cursory Google search of ‘how to write a book’. I can’t believe this is being published.

Author's Note

TBR Check In: January 2019

I’m not hugely one for New Year’s Resolutions, but I thought it might be a good idea to keep a monthly log of the various reading challenges I’m doing. This way I have a bit of accountability! I’ll aim to have these up on the 1st of each month.

Goodreads Reading Challenge


I’ve rather optimistically set this at 365 books, which would be the equivalent of reading a book a day! There are definitely days I won’t achieve this, but I’m hoping that the days that I read more than one book will balance them out.

My Owned TBR

As of January 1st, my TBR page stands at 395 books – more than I can read in a year! I’d like to cut this down by 20 books each month, if I can. Not a no-buy, but definitely more read than bought! Continue reading “TBR Check In: January 2019”

Author's Note


30176449_2012557998773973_903022966_oFor as long as I can remember, I’ve loved books. My to-be-read list has always towered excitingly over my weekends and free time, promising escapism and adventures. However, in recent years, my shelves have been starting to creak, so it’s time to get reading and reviewing again. I’m going to try (only TRY) not to buy any books outright for a year, and read and review everything I have waiting… Expect fantasy, YA, historical (and plenty of alternate historical) and SF – especially older SF and fantasy.

Books are best enjoyed with a good cup of tea and the company of a softly purring cat. I’ll show these off too.

(If you like the cat more than the books, he has his own Instagram @thecatfromnorway)